Monday, November 28, 2016

Like prayer beads

And better than nail biting...

This one will last me a while.

cotton batik remnants wrapped around clothesline. I like the lip on it.

Playing with the 5x7 idea in preparation for gift exchange at Fiber Art Fusion:

Paper rust dyed, stenciled, and hand-stitched together

Paper dip-dyed in black walnut juice. I'll do this again.

Silk leaf sewn by hand to fabric fused onto heavy interfacing and attached to navy blue paper

Friday, November 18, 2016

Joy in Color

These colors give me joy.

This, too:

And the Christmas cactus is about to burst with red blooms

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Madrid, black and blue

Madrid is a beautiful city, clean, open, modern. And it contains some of the best examples of Picaso's later work. So inspiring and even disturbing during his blue period.

the two sides, black on top of blue

The fabric I used to make this Madrid shirt (The Sewing Workshop) is black on one side, deep navy on the other side. I purchased it at The Sewing Workshop in Topeka KS about 18 months ago. The navy side is so dark that it looks black until you compare it to the black side. It is 100% wool, something I questioned until I steam-pressed it. It is a fine double-weave, so fine that it has a glimmer like silk. And it is crinkly. It was mostly fun to sew and I love how it feels.

Initially I thought I'd make up the Madrid in a window-pane black and white plaid. In the process of planning that I realized that the curved seams in the front and in the back are design-only. So if I do make it up in something requiring matching, I'll just overlap the curved back pieces and cut as one. I'll do the same for the right front pieces. That way, I'll have no need to unnecessarily match plaid on the curves.

Since this is a solid colored piece, I followed the pattern closely. The curved seam in the front does create a stable base for the buttons. And it adds pretty lines to the garment, I think.

I like almost everything about this pattern. The uneven hems are attractive and they float over my belly. The sleeves are quite tapered which I think is a pretty shape. I am rather enamored of the curved band that contains the buttonholes.

But. I am not crazy about those dropped shoulders. With this puffy fabric, the sleeve cap is not as smooth as I like, though it contains no bubbles in the sewing. I guess I just prefer a sleeve cap that sits directly on my rather square shoulders.

Next time I may add some fabric to the hems. The pattern assumes that you will finish the raw edges of the fabric with a serger, I think. But I chose to use French seams throughout and did not want to use the serger on the hem where it might even show. There is only a 5/8 inch hem which becomes a 3/8 hem when you fold the raw edge under. This led to some tiny miters, not quite as pretty as deep miters.

This was a fun make. I almost always have a great time following a pattern for the first time, especially with patterns from The Sewing Workshop. And I see more potential for the Madrid shirt. I probably will not make the pants, a re-issue of the Zigzag pants. These pants are meant to fit like jeans with tight crotch and low waistline, so not my cup of tea.

I am checking my mailbox daily for their re-issue of the San Diego jacket.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Staying busy

Trying to re-center myself.

Turning my brain to OFF.

Feeling anxious.

They look so hopeful. I do not feel hopeful.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Joy in Blue

Tuesday night at Fiber Art Fusion, Lynn guided us through the construction of a rope vase, a wrapped rope vase. I have had a great time making naked rope bowls. I still find that to be meditative. Lynn's tips for wrapped rope vases led to great fun and new directions in these sculptural makes.

My rope is wrapped with batik strips about 3/4 inch wide (a good activity for watching the news, if you can stand it). I used three different pieces of batik from the stash. There is one red linen strip in the bottom. A glue stick is used to secure the edges at the transitions and then when you zig-zag over it, it becomes very secure.

The first surprise was that when the direction of the curve changes, people-who-know-what-they-are-doing make a separate piece. Then the pieces are sewn together by hand! In the above picture, I'm making the upper section of the vase, the part where the vase opens.

So this piece has two sections that are sewn together where they meet. I like that it created a sharp angle in the piece. But of course it has me thinking of ways to create a smoother transition. And it has me thinking of ways to add some hand-stitch accents. And it has me thinking of combining the wrapped rope with naked rope...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Loose grip

Peony vest and Odette shirt from The Sewing Workshop

I've just completed some small skirmishes with knits. Knits are like that for me. Perfect for travel. Great for 3 seasons of wear.  And I enjoy buying them. But sewing's always dicey.

Each type of knit behaves differently. Even the same type of knit varies from piece to piece. The drape, the amount of stretch, whether pressing is possible or useful, the stitch - so many variables. And unpredictable.

So I'm trying to loosen up a bit. After all - these are just clothes!

First up, 3 pairs of Helix knit pants: black, plum, and gray ponte knit. These were sort-of straight-forward and I made them in a quasi production mode. Darts, inseams, top-stitch inseams, outer seams, hems, and then crotch seams.

Helix pants - super easy to make

The only time I hold my breath with the Helix pants is when I attach the elastic waistband. It is attached by first sewing the 3 inch elastic into a circle. Then the top edge of the pants is lapped under the right side of the elastic circle and stitched in place. Because the elastic circle is a bit smaller than the top of the pants, a little stretch-and-sew is required. And the lapping wants to separate or the lapping grows too large. Pants #1 took about an hour on the waistband. Sheesh!!

I thought, maybe I should make a more conventional covered elastic waistline. I thought that until I tried on the finished Pants #1. I love the way that waistline looks and fits. A conventional elastic waistband is so much more bulky and looks more home-made, I think.

So Pants #2 and Pants #3 were finished with the same lapping technique as Pants #1. I tried to loosen my grip and pretend to be less of control freak. It worked!

Having warmed up with a stable knit, I was ready to work with a more challenging knit.

I had purchased a medium weight jersey at a tag sale a while back, so I'm uncertain of its content. It feels a lot like super soft rayon jersey. It curls a little - just a enough to tell the right side from the wrong . It has a slight tendency to get sucked into the sewing machine, though use of my walking foot fixed that problem. In fact, the walking foot seems to be the answer with knits, no matter the question.

Odette shirt from the Sewing Workshop

I made the Odette shirt from the Sewing Workshop, one I've made before. I like the result but I'm amazed at how much bigger it is than my previous Odette.

my new Odette
I reversed the pieces - it mirrors the older one below.

My older Odette
The new one is quite a bit larger than the older one. I think that both knits are rayon jersey but they feel, stretch and drape in very different ways. The white one is quite stable, almost like cotton.

I am not ready to give up on knits. In fact, I think I actually like knits. And I'll enjoy wearing the orange one. Here is how it works with my latest Peony vest:

Thursday, October 20, 2016


A little experiential learning.

Black walnut dyeing. All of these silk pieces have been tinted. The lightest one is closest to the original. I still have some soaking in bell jars. I love the richest brown which came from the freshest walnut juice and stayed in the longest.

The thing I want to accept is that experiential learning does not always create beautiful pieces. This is a tea bag that I embroidered onto a piece of hand-dyed silk organza. I had attached pieces from a newspaper article to the 5x7 canvas first. 
This one is not beautiful but it is more successful.

Drawing on dried tea bag, then attached to paper with matte medium, and finally machine stitched.
Matte medium works differently with fabric than with paper. Good to know.